Kent County Times: West Warwick Public Library celebrates 50 years

Kent County Times: West Warwick Public Library celebrates 50 years

By Kendra Lolio

WEST WARWICK — Community members joined together Saturday to celebrate the West Warwick Public Library’s successful 50 years of service to the local community. On Feb. 20, 1967 the institution opened its doors to the public for the first time, marking the beginning of a period of great progress in the town. Local officials made appearances throughout the day, including town manager Fred Presley, Congressman James Langevin and Chief of Library Services for the RI Department of Administration Karen Mellor. Langevin presented library director Tom O’Donnell with an honorary citation to commemorate the milestone.

In a brief speech, Mellor recalled some of the history behind the library, noting the original group of individuals who served as the Directors of the West Warwick Central Library Association and their dedication to creating a centralized library in town.

“Back in 1958 some forward thinking individuals realized that the most important institution that West Warwick did not have and really needed was a library,” Mellor said. “Over the course of almost 10 years they persevered to find the funding and the support to make their vision come true because they realized that having a library in town would help attract industry, and it would raise the quality of life for the people living here.”
Mellor said that when the library first opened in 1967 it received one of the first library construction grants offered by the state as well as federal funds through the Library Services and Construction Act. The state contributed half the cost in the 1990s to renovate the building, more than doubling its size to what stands today.

“This really now and then is the most important institution in the community,” Mellor said. “West Warwick has always been a beacon through good times and bad with the programs and services that you’ve you provide to the community. The state is very proud to have been a partner to the library through all these years.”

Congressman James Langevin congratulated the town on what he called “an incredible milestone.” He noted that when Rhode Island last held a constitutional convention voters approved an amendment calling for the continued mandate and support for libraries which remains in the constitution to this day.

“It’s very clear that when voters in Rhode Island approved that amendment, and they did not have to, they saw the value of libraries and their importance to our communities and families,” Langevin said.

He added that he felt libraries would always be relevant and worthy of investment despite the changing technological landscape.
“I believe that libraries are more important now than ever because they are the embodiment of our highest ideals,” he said. “Our belief that every person has a right to knowledge, that every child has the right to learn and that information should be free and available to all who seek it out.”

Langevin called libraries “the great equalizer” of communities, drawing in all walks of life, and said that librarians and library staff will always be necessary components.

“Today more than ever we need an informed electorate with the right information,” he said. “We need people who help guide us through the mess of alternative facts and fake news to find the truth. This is why libraries and librarians will never be irrelevant, because access to knowledge will always be relevant and worthy of investment.”

The day was filled with festivities including Burkina Yacouba, who performed African tribal music on the Kora, a traditional African instrument with 21 strings. Face painting was provided by Kathi Martey with Kathi’s Creative Faces and music was provided by Joe’s Backyard Band and the Superchief Trio, a jump-blues and swing band. The Chorus of Kent County Women’s Auxiliary performed a number of pieces and led the community in a special rendition of “Happy Birthday” before cutting into a book-shaped cake provided by Matos Bakery.

Warwick Beacon: Delegation vows fight to save best of Obamacare

Warwick Beacon: Delegation vows fight to save best of Obamacare

By John Howell

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had people laughing at a rally to save the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans have already taken the first steps to dismantle it in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and their impending control of both the House and Senate.

Whitehouse wasn’t looking to offer comic relief Sunday afternoon as more than 340 people packed the Johnston Senior Center and another 100 were forced to stand outside because the center meeting room was at fire code capacity. The full Rhode Island congressional delegation that sponsored the rally spoke. Joining them to point out what repeal of Obamacare could mean to Rhode Islanders and how that might affect those on Medicare and Medicaid was Gov. Gina Raimondo and those on the frontlines of delivering and receiving health care.

Whitehouse likened what Republicans are doing to pushing someone out of an airplane and telling them as they are plummeting to the ground that somebody is working on building them a parachute.

“They say ‘trust us,’” he said of Republicans. “Well, no thank you.” Whitehouse wants to see a plan before gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A number of speakers spoke about popular features of the ACA, often called Obamacare, including the inclusion of children up to age 27 in their family health plan, banning insurance companies from placing lifetime and annual limits on health expenses and the denial of coverage on pre-existing conditions.

“Many of you are now coming into the office to seek preventive care and you give us an opportunity to diagnose and treat problems early because of health insurance,” said Dr. Nitin S. Damle, president of the American College of Physicians that represents 145,000 internal medicine physicians nationally and internationally. He said with repeal of the act, 22 million could become uninsured and 52 million people nationwide and 164,000 Rhode Islanders with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage.

To cheers and applause, he said, “affordable high quality health care should be a fundamental right of every American just as public education.”

Senator Jack Reed and Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline echoed that sentiment.

“It’s a right, not a fringe benefit,” said Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena who hosted the rally.

In his remarks Reed said the percentage of uninsured Rhode Islanders has dropped from 12 percent to 4.5 percent under the act. He said under the act, 100,000 Rhode Islanders who previously didn’t have health insurance are now covered and he fears changes in Medicare and Medicaid and that health insurance premiums “will skyrocket.”

Raimondo likewise was concerned for those who might lose coverage without the act. She said the state is “within a whisper” of universal healthcare coverage, adding, “We want it in Rhode Island and we’re not going backwards. If we make enough noise, they will listen.”

Raimondo urged those seeking to save the act to join with the Protect Our Healthcare Coalition and share their story. The email for the newly formed group is ProtectRIHealth@gmail.com. One of the coalition’s organizers, Linda Katz, co-founder and policy director of the Rhode Island Economic Progress Institute, said the group is not only looking to do what it can to save the act on a national level but also the program in the state.

Joanne McGunnagle, executive director of the Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP), found it difficult to imagine what might happen if the ACA is dismantled. McGunnagle was one of several community action program directors to attend the rally. CCAP operates four local clinics serving about 15,000 people.

“This is a basic human need,” McGunnagle said of the services provided by CCAP. Medicaid covers much of the cost of services, but McGunnagle is hearing, like others, that changes could be coming to that program as well as Medicare that would limit coverage.

Gina Rombly, a mother and owner of a small design and video company, told how she and her husband believed they had found affordable health care only to have the insurance company fail, leaving them short of their premiums and stuck with medical bills. It was at that point that the ACA was passed and Rombly who had been diagnosed with stage 3 uterine cancer couldn’t be denied coverage. Now considered cured, Rombly said, “we depend on this [health coverage].”

“Take away the bad parts [of the ACA]. But there’s so much good that it’s done…you can’t just take it away and not have something to replace it with.”

Langevin called the actions of the House and Senate Republicans to dismantle the ACA an “incredible low point” in his legislative career. He was critical of Republicans for not working to amend the legislation.

“We all know ACA isn’t perfect,” he said, “there’s so much we can do to make it better.”

Langevin talked about Evan Huddon of Warwick, who is battling spina bifida and hydrocephalus. He said the Huddons would have never been able to afford the $3 million in medical costs to help Evan without health care.

“It shouldn’t be for just those who can afford it,” he said.

Langevin vowed to save the good elements of ACA.

“This fight isn’t over, it’s just beginning,” he said.

We’re in this Together


Yesterday afternoon, I was officially sworn in as a United States Representative in the 115th Congress. It marked the ninth time I participated in this ceremony in the hallowed chamber of the U.S. House, but despite the familiarity of the occasion, it felt quite different. There have been many ups and downs over the past several years, but I cannot remember a time marked by more uncertainty. On our very first day back, House Republicans concocted a plan to undermine accountability and oversight by effectively eliminating the Office of Congressional Ethics. Only after swift and vociferous criticism from constituents and their fellow elected leaders – myself included – did they drop this misguided effort. And this is just on day one. People are scared of what the future holds, and I don’t blame them.

So as Congress resumes its business and as you begin your new year, I want to remind you of one important fact that brings me comfort: we’re in this together.

I’m not sure what the next two years will bring. None of us are. But I do know that your support has lifted me up, and it is what fuels me going forward. Regardless of what obstacles may come our way, you can trust that I will continue to be accessible and transparent, and I will do everything in my power to fight for what is right for Rhode Island, for our country and, most importantly, for you. Sound policy and true leadership starts with the individual, and I pledge to you that I will carry the torch for you in Washington.

The battle continues, and so does the conversation. In the days and weeks and months to come, I hope you will reach out to me whenever you have a question or concern. The 2016 election is behind us, but the real work lies ahead, and we’re going to need each other’s support, compassion, and counsel more than ever.

Happy New Year. Let’s get to work!

Sincerely,

Jim

Thankful For You!

Thankful For You!

Thankful for You!

Tomorrow, families all over the country will come together to enjoy a meal and each other’s company. We will put our differences aside and focus on what really matters. We will celebrate what is good in the world, and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. It is a day to remember how fortunate we are to live in this country, and it is a day when I reflect on just how fortunate I am to have friends like you.

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating that you are the reason I am returning to Congress. Your support and friendship has meant the world to me, and this Thanksgiving, I am feeling especially thankful for you. I cannot thank you enough.

I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow with your loved ones, and that it is just the beginning of a joyous holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim

The (Almost) Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The (Almost) Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I’m not ready to fast forward through fall just yet, but I have one early request on my holiday wish list this year, and I’m hoping you can help. My second annual Holiday Card Photo Contest is now underway, and I’m looking for images that capture the beauty and the spirit of the holiday season in the Second Congressional District.

Please help me spread the word about the contest so we can attract even more submissions this year! All Rhode Islanders are invited to participate by sending high-quality photos taken in the Second Congressional District to HolidayCard@JimLangevin.com. Photographs should depict winter scenes and be inclusive to all holiday celebrations, and each participant may submit up to THREE entries. More details are available on my Facebook page, and the complete list of contest rules is below.

From snow-covered streets in Burrillville to the wintry waterfront in Westerly, I hope you will share your photos and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. The deadline to submit photos is Thursday, October 20. Eligible photographs will be posted on my Facebook page at Langevin for Congress on Friday, October 21, and the photograph with the most likes by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 28, will be the winner! So start digging through your photo collection – I can’t wait to see the great photographs!

Best of luck!
Jim

Contest Rules:

-Photos must be high quality, with a resolution of at least 300dpi
-Original photo size must be at least 5×7″
-Photos must be taken by the person submitting the photo, and must be taken in the Second Congressional District
-Amateur and professional photographers are both welcome to submit entries
-The last day to submit photos is Thursday, October 20
-By submitting your photo to the contest, you are giving Langevin for Congress permission to use your photo without compensation

On the Rhode Again

Summer is my favorite time in Rhode Island. The heat and the sunshine, the food and the ocean views. Everything seems a little better in the summertime, and the campaign trail doesn’t feel remotely like work when you’re knocking on doors in beautiful weather and meeting Rhode Islanders with so many interesting stories and perspectives to share. Life is good.

All eyes have been trained on national politics, it seems, this season, but my primary election is fast approaching. The election season is already halfway gone, and November will be here before we know it. But before the leaves change and we bid summer farewell, I’m working hard to defend my seat in Congress. I’ve enjoyed attending events in support of my colleagues at the state and local levels, and also meeting with Democratic city and town committees to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our state and our nation.

I have received endorsements from the Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee; the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs; the Young Democrats of Rhode Island; Democratic Town Committees in Burrillville, East Greenwich, Exeter, Johnston, North Kingstown, Providence, and Warwick; and from both the AFL-CIO and the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council. I will continue to campaign on my record and on my vision for a stronger Rhode Island, and I hope to add more endorsements in the weeks to come.

I hope you’re enjoying the summer as much as I am. Take time to enjoy our beautiful state at this wonderful time of year, and I hope to see you on the campaign trail soon!

 

Sincerely,

Jim Langevin

Member of Congress

Spring Ahead to Fall

Spring has just begun, but I already have my mind on the fall.

The election is fast approaching, and I’m more enthusiastic than ever about reapplying for a job that I love. Because that’s what an election is: a job interview. Every two years, my constituents have the opportunity to evaluate the work that I am doing on their behalf, and decide whether or not I’ve earned the distinction of continuing to represent them in Congress.

So as you embark on your due diligence, researching the most qualified candidate, I would like to share some of the highlights from my resume.

Keeping the American people safe and protecting our way of life is a priority that I know we all agree upon. “Safety first,” as they say, and so it is with my work in Congress. I am a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, assignments that position me to advocate for what is best when it comes to national security at home and abroad. Supporting the men and women who serve our nation is a big piece of the national security puzzle, because we cannot defend our nation without a well-trained and cared for military. We also cannot sufficiently staff our armed forces if we do not keep our promise to support our veterans once they return home.

When we look at modern conflict, it is undeniable that cyber warfare is a real concern now and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

Cybersecurity is also an issue of economic security and competitiveness for our nation. This is why I have dedicated so much of my time in Congress to this important issue. I co-founded and continue to co-chair the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus and I am a national leader on this issue. I have been calling attention to the need for robust cyber defenses for nearly a decade, and I’m so proud that this work is paying off. More and more of my colleagues in Congress and across government have heeded my warnings, and momentum continues to build as I push for action on this critical cause.

Cybersecurity is a challenge that is not going away, and that poses an incredible opportunity for our workforce. Cybersecurity is an industry with tremendous growth potential, and I have advocated strongly for education and training programs that will ensure we have the right workforce to meet the growing demand. Bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace is a priority for me across industry, as I co-chair the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. I’ve introduced legislation that would better connect school counselors with the business community, so that students are making informed decisions about college or careers, based on current and future economic trends.

On top of these legislative priorities, I continue to be an advocate for people with disabilities, for a stronger middle class, and for equality and human rights for all. I share my positions constantly through social media, my website, and at public forums like my Lunch with Langevin program, and I will never stop working to be accessible and transparent to all of my constituents. My door is always open.

This is just a sampling of the issues I care deeply about. My concerns and my hopes for the future are as varied as the people I represent, and if you ever have a question about where I fall on a given issue, please do not hesitate to reach out. That’s what I’m here for.

Friend, the time to elect your representative in Congress will be here before you know it, so as you consider your options, I humbly ask for your support and your vote.

 

Sincerely,

Jim Langevin
Member of Congress

Langevin’s State of the Union

This evening, President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to the nation. This will be the President’s final State of the Union as our Commander-in-Chief, and I am confident that, despite the incredible challenges we face as a nation, he will provide an inspirational and uplifting message as we embark on a new year with renewed hope, promise, and opportunity.

In a preview video on the White House website, the President confesses that, “since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I have ever been more optimistic about a year than I am right now.” I share his optimism, because no matter what obstacles we face, I know that the American spirit is resilient. And it is with that sense of optimism and enthusiasm that I humbly begin another year of serving you in Congress.

As my own State of the Union, so to speak, I want to let you know what my priorities will be for 2016. First, as a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, the safety of the American people is among my top priorities. I will continue to fight for policies that support our men and women in uniform, that care for our veterans, and that protect our national security at home and abroad. We live in a complex and ever-changing threat landscape, but we will not bow to terrorism or those who seek to dismantle our way of life.

Cybersecurity is a major component of not only national security, but of economic security, as well, and you can trust that I will remain a national leader in this area. As founder and co-chair of the Cybersecurity Caucus, I will push for more legislation that fortifies our cyber defenses, and for programs that better prepare a cyber workforce for our future. Strengthening information sharing and protecting critical infrastructure are at the top of this to-do list.

Closing the skills gap so we have qualified workers to grow jobs and our economy is an issue for cybersecurity and for so many other industries. I look forward to reaching across the aisle once again with my Career and Technical Education Caucus co-chair, Congressman ‘GT’ Thompson of Pennsylvania, to support policies that empower students and put them on a path to success. In particular, I hope we can pass my Counseling for Career Choice Act this year in order to ensure young people have all the information they need to make the right career choice.

The list goes on. I want to end gun violence by passing commonsense reforms that keep guns out of the wrong hands. I want to pass meaningful tax reform that supports a strong middle class. I want to fix our broken immigration system so we have stronger border security and provide a clear path to citizenship for those who seek the American dream. I want to improve upon the Affordable Care Act that has already reduced Rhode Island’s rate of uninsured residents by nearly 80 percent.

Friend, we can do all of these things, and I hope that 2016 is the time to do them. In his preview, President Obama said that what makes America great is “our capacity to change for the better.” Let’s change for the better this year and chart a brighter course for 2016 and beyond. I will be listening carefully to the President’s words tonight, but speeches aside, I can’t wait to take action to make 2016 a year for the record books.

 

Sincerely,

Jim Langevin
Member of Congress